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Last Updated: Friday, 1 April 2005, 20:14 GMT 21:14 UK
Toulouse 37-9 Northampton
Darren Fox tries to get through the Toulouse defence
Toulouse (14) 37
Tries: Michalak, Heymans, Clerc, Labit
Con: Elissalde (4)
Pens: Michalak (2)
Drops: Michalak
Northampton (6) 9
Pens: Drahm (3)
Northampton crashed out of the Heineken Cup as Toulouse booked their place in the semi-finals with a superb display.

Despite an encouraging start from the visitors, the French giants soon took control with tries from Frederic Michalak and Cedric Heymans.

Shane Drahm kept Northampton in the game with three penalties but Vincent Clerc's try put Toulouse out of sight.

Michalak also added nine points with the boot and victory was sealed on 69 minutes when Christian Labit crossed.

Northampton may have been massive underdogs for the game but they did not play like that in the first period as they took the game to their much-vaunted opponents.

Despite the early departure of Andrew Blowers through injury, they enjoyed plenty of possession and territory but mistakes at crucial times were their undoing.

The half was summed up on 19 minutes when Saints had Toulouse on the back foot but just as the try-line came into sight, a loose pass went straight to Michalak who ran in from his own 22 for the game's opening try.

Drahm pulled three points back on 25 minutes but roared on by a vociferous crowd, Toulouse started to find their rhythm with the help of some accurate probing from Michalak.

We came up against a bigger and stronger team and ended up punching ourselves out
Saints skipper Steve Thompson

Their second try came seven minutes before half-time when, after some superb back-play, Heymans showed some deft footwork to score out wide.

Northampton did manage to get some joy at the end of the half with some deep kicks and after a Toulouse error, Drahm was able to slot over another three points.

The French side should have gone in with a bigger lead but despite some late pressure, Jean-Baptiste Elissalde uncharacteristically missed two kicks at goal.

Toulouse started the second half as they finished the first and a drop goal and a penalty from Michalak put them 20-6 up.

Drahm kicked his third penalty but Toulouse looked dangerous every time they had the ball.

And after Mark Soden received a yellow card for pulling down a rolling maul, the home side spread the ball wide and Clement Poitrenaud played in Vincent Clerc for a clinical score in the corner.

We knew that gaps would eventually appear and that if we kept exploiting those the tries would come
Toulouse coach Guy Noves

Northampton never surrendered and gave everything in the search for points but were unable to break down the well-organised Toulouse defence.

Michalak added another three points on 62 minutes and the game was effectively wrapped up when a quick Toulouse line-out took Saints by surprise.

They were unable to get numbers back and substitute Labit showed his power to come from deep and crash over.

With the game over as a contest, Toulouse were able to coast the last 10 minutes to book a semi-final clash against either Leicester or Leinster.

Coach Guy Noves said: "We were aware of the strength of Northampton. We tried to put pressure on them with our kicking.

"We knew that gaps would eventually appear and that if we kept exploiting those the tries would come."

Saints captain Steve Thompson gave a brutally honest assessment of Toulouse's performance.

"We hung in there in the first half and were just two scores away from them," he said. "But we came up against a bigger and stronger team and ended up punching ourselves out.

"They showed the true calibre of their whole squad because most of their bench came on in the second half and that made a massive difference."


Toulouse: Poitrenaud; Clerc, Jauzion, Fritz, Heymans; Michalak, Elissalde; Poux, Bru, Hassanein; Pelous, Millochlusky; Bouihlou, F Maka, Lamboley.
Replacements: Medard for Fritz (71), Dubois for Elissalde (72), Human for Poux (80), Servat for Bru (42), Brennan for Pelous (67), Gerard for Millochlusky (59), Labit for F Maka (59).

Northampton: Reihana; Rudd, Cohen, Stcherbina, Tucker; Drahm, Howard; Smith, Thompson, Morris; Lord, Browne; Fox, Krige, Blowers.
Replacements: Vilk for Stcherbina (72), Jones for Howard (71), Emms for Morris (38), Boome for Browne (52), Soden for Blowers (10). Not Used: Richmond, Grayson.

Referee: Nigel Williams (Wales)




SEE ALSO
Toulouse 25-12 Northampton
11 Dec 04 |  European Club
Northampton 23-21 Toulouse
04 Dec 04 |  European Club


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